Updated: Aug 16

It's a day to celebrate the privilege of being able to read, so grab one of our favorite horse books and curl up on the sofa. Or take the opportunity to read your entries in your journal to see how far you and your horse have come. That is a beautiful story in the making!


Schooling and Riding the Sport Horse: A Modern American Hunter/Jumper System by Paul D. Cronin

An excellent and practical application of Vladimir S. Littauer,'s classic forward riding system. Cronin, provides a system for developing rider position and controls, as well as basic principles, selection of the horse, and a detailed schooling program.

Anne Kursinski’s Riding & Jumping Clinic: New Edition by Anne Kursinski

Need some advice on riding a Derby course? Kursinski, five-time Olympian, two-time Olympic Silver Medalist, author, clinician and international competitor, gives you 20 exercises to improve your position, feel and how to confidently and successfully master a jump course. The photographs alone are stunning.

Centered Riding by Sally Swift

Swift was monumental in the development of a mind-body awareness of riders and inspiring a whole new generation of riders and trainers educated in the skills of biomechanics. Her classic text provides manageable steps toward developing this connection and provides practical tools for riding in balance with awareness.

Balance in Movement by Susanne von Dietze-Pollak

Susanne von Dietze-Pollak, well-known trainer, judge and physiotherapist, shares her exercises and exercise material designed to improve the rider's seat. Her advice is designed to improve connection communicate with invisible aids.

Ride With Your Mind Essentials by Mary Wanless

An internationally renowned coach, Wanless describes the horse-human connection and how to achieve it in easily digestible "chunks." She uses her extensive knowledge of horse and human biomechanics to lay down a foundation of riding for all disciplines. A classic text for riders of all levels wishing to understand the affect of their position and aids on their horse.

The Perfect Horse by Elizabeth Letts

An account of Operation Cowboy during WWII, during which a group of U.S. soldiers from the Third Army, Second Cavalry discovered the Germans were keeping almost 700 prized European horses. These soldiers risked their lives to move the horses 35 miles over the border to Kotztinz, Germany, and eventually to safety.

Cavalettis by Ingrid klimke

A set of challenging cavaletti exercises designed to "teach your horse to think on his feet is by asking him complex questions at home" https://www.horseandrideruk.com/the-magazine/issues/september-2019. A German eventing rider and Olympic medalist, Klimke's exercises help you and your horse develop a trust and partnership so that you are successful away from home as well.

Straightening The Crooked Horse by Klaus and Gabriele Schoneich

A closer examination of how the horse moves and how much it influences their straightness. The authors offer training advice on encouraging a round and supple back and a correct bend for improving your horse's forward movement.

The Ethics and Passions of Dressage by Charles de Kunffy

De Kunffy, USDF Hall of Fame Master Horseman, author, clinician, and judge, beautifully argues for the an ethical approach to classical dressage. He explains the true meanings of: non-confrontational riding and training, “on the bit,” engagement, the development of the correct seat, and the use of hands and reins" (https://xenophon-press).

Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Vicki Hearne

Based on studies from science, literature, and philosophy, this book sets out to revolutionize the way we think about animals and their training. Hearne demonstrates a new level of training based on the knowledge that animals are more intelligent than we assume and that they are capable of developing an understanding of morality.

101 Jumping Exercises for Horse and Rider by Linda Allen

Allen, equestrian consultant, judge, and show jumping clinician, provides simple groundwork activities, over poles exercises and then equitation courses in this easy to follow collection of activities to teach a rider correct balance, technique and confidence over jumps.


Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

A bit cliche, but it is still one of our favorites! The true story of the race horse Seabiscuit, whose continuous failures caused the horse to be banished from the racing community. After changing ownership, Seabiscuit goes onto win many accolades and titles culminating in a four length win in the Match of the Century. It is a touching story of an owner, trainer and rider pausing to connect with their horse, and how it changed them all.

The Dressage Chronicles by Karen McGoldrick

A lively and touching series about a girl who leaves her conventional world behind and goes off to work for a very famous dressage trainer in South Florida. The story is so powerful it inspired one of our very own team members to become a working student!

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

A story of the healing bond between horse and human, the book opens with a tragic accident and a broken young girl and a traumatized horse The book follows the horse and the young girl as they search to save the horse and end up saving themselves as well..

Dream of Fair Horses by Patricia Leitch

An oldie but goodie, this is a sweet, common story of a girl who longs for a pony. And once she finds that pony, the story follows the young girl from taking that green pony to ultimately qualifying for the Horse of The Year Show at Wembley.

Need to keep track of everything you learn from these books or write down exercises you want to try? The Equestrian Journal is here to help.

Happy reading!

The Equestrian Journal team

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Updated: Feb 13

I'm very fortunate to have been taught by more than a few heart horses. I recently sat down to make a list of the horses who have stamped my heart with their hoof prints and I counted 21!

The requirements to make the list didn’t depend on if I owned the horse but rather whether or not that horse offered me a friendship so unforgettable that it changed my life.

My heart horses were not the easiest to ride or the fanciest movers but they gave me profound gifts that arrived in the shape of challenges that helped me grow, change, and evolve.

These challenges taught me self awareness, skills of observation, empathy, athleticism, critical thinking, and even spirituality.

Felicia was one such Heart Horse and a life-changing chapter in my story. She was my first red headed mare. She was not the typical temperamental red mare and because of all that she taught me, my life has become one big thank you note to her.

She was big, bright, beautiful, and chromed out but she was not a fancy mover and her back was as long as Route 66. It took me two years to figure out how to get her on the aids. She was truly a saint and patiently waited while I bumbled my way up the levels. It was a hard slog and my inner dialogue was pretty brutal because I was disappointed in myself.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was making progress, it just didn’t look like what I thought it should. Day after day, week after week, month after month it felt like I was working on the same thing. Why couldn’t I get her head down and her back up?!

But what felt like riding in circles was actually a spiral. Every single session I made progress and inched my way up. Of course, I was judging my progress and it wasn’t nearly fast enough, but the day I figured out how to get her on the aids those feelings flew out the door.

We began kicking butt at horse shows and we beat some really fancy horses. As I look back on our upward spiral, I realize that I was often focused on how I could get better faster. I really wanted to find the gas pedal, if you will, and accelerate the process.

While I will admit that journaling can often accelerate the process it’s not because you’ve found that gas pedal.

The truth is many of us are riding the brakes. We are getting in our own way and slowing our progress without even realizing it. My primary “brake” on my progress was my self-talk. The things I said to myself in my head, I would never dream of saying that to another person.

I held myself back in many ways. I had limiting beliefs on what I deserved, what I was capable of, and even what resources were available to me. I didn’t always journal about Felicia, but the entries I did make - paint a picture. I wasn’t getting the full value of each lesson that I took.

My trainer and Felicia offered me EVERYTHING but I was so caught up in my own drama that I didn’t always integrate what I was learning. For example, if the lesson cost a dollar then I was getting about $0.20 worth.

There was wisdom in my experiences but I was in my own way and I couldn’t see it. One of the things I love about journaling is that it can help that wisdom rise to the surface where it is more obvious.

I love this quote by Ralph Marston:

There are plenty of obstacles in your path.

Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.”

Isn’t that the truth! Especially with horses! This is an incredibly challenging sport with major and lows.

I don’t say this about many things in my life, but I actually have regrets about how I spent my time with Felicia. She had so much to teach me and our time was cut short when she died in my arms.

She was at the farm where she was born and had a freak pasture accident. Her final lesson for me was about accepting the gifts that horses offer us by being present to receive.

I feel like there may have been more I could have learned from her if only I could have gotten out of my own way and picked my struggles wisely.

Knowing in my soul what it feels like to let go of someone you love focused me and changed me. Every horse I work with gets the benefit of what Felicia taught me and at this point I’m pretty sure that I could get a giraffe on the bit thanks to her.

If you are open to sharing something that you are struggling to learn, I’d love to hear from you. Or maybe you’ve had an amazing breakthrough you’d like to share. On this Valentine's Day weekend, I would love to hear your heart horse stories.

While you are thinking: I’ll give you a bit of a silver lining. Hours later after her death, Felicia’s full sister was born. A chestnut filly with 4-white socks and a blaze. The shock of this profound experience is still with me.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Catherine Respess

Creator of The Equestrian Journal

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Updated: Jan 27

You may be one of the lucky riders who happen to winter in Florida or California, but for many of us cold weather brings a new set of challenges to our equestrian sports.

Indoor arenas are a necessity for many of us. Although being indoors protects from some of the elements, both riders and horses may still need to take some extra precautions to keep comfortable during the winter months.

With the help of a few pieces of equipment and riding apparel, you and your horse can still keep active all year long. We all know weather plays a role in your horse’s behavior, and sometimes even your own! The most stoic of trainers shudders at the thought of cold, wet winter days. The Equestrian Journal helps manage behavior and routine changes and how they affect your horse. On colder days, your horse may be more frisky and more reactive. Keeping track of what happens when riding your horse in different conditions will remind you what worked in certain situations and reduce anxiety about those situations.

For the rider: On cold days, you may be chilled tacking up and then sweaty while riding. So layers are key. I love my fleece lined riding tights. The Kerritts brand makes both full seat and knee patch versions, and they are my go to when it drops below 40. Depending on your comfort level, a long underwear top and warm riding coat with a tapered waistline like this one might work well. Other riders may prefer more room to move in and a fleece turtleneck and vest are great options.

I keep a box of HotHands hand warmers in my tack trunk for the before and after riding "cold finger syndrome." You can throw them in your pockets and when those gloves come off, you can warm your hands up quickly. Tack cleaning can be difficult if you do not have readily accessible warm water. Belvoir and Lexol make quick clean wipes for those chilly days when you just need to make a wipe down.

Although many companies make insulated riding boots, I find they interfere with contact so I wear the usual thin, tall boots. I splurged this year and purchased a pair of Dubarry boots to change into for cool down and barn chores. They really help warm those frozen toes back up after dismounting.

For the horse: Depending on whether your horse is clipped, there are many options for keeping your horse comfortable as well. A cooler is essential, however, it can be too bulky while tacked up. Several years ago, my barn gave all of the boarders these wonderful fleece quarter sheets. This simple, lightweight blanket has become an integral part of my winter routine. It has a velcro attachment above the pommel so it can stay on for all our flat work and I do not have to worry about anything flapping around. Other items that are helpful are baby wipes for “baths” and teet cleaning, leave-in body spray for dry coats, and of course a lunge line for those frisky mornings.

You can keep track of what winter riding equipment and routines work best for you and your horse in The Equestrian Journal. Use the code WINTER10 for 10% off your journal purchase until January 31, 2021. The wet, cold weather can mean less turnout time, so it is even more important to spend time with your horse. Just make sure you are both prepared and you may even gain more from the less busy winter months and be ready for show season and trail riding in the spring!

#coldweatherriding, #journalthat